Comments to: David Woods
Last Updated: May 2001

Sources for the Cult of St. Maurice

[6th-Century Events][10th-Century Events][11th-Century Events]

6th-Century Events

Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs 61

At Cologne there is a church in which the fifty men from the holy Theban Legion are said to have consummated their martyrdom for the name of Christ. And because the church, with its wonderful construction and mosaics, shines as if somehow gilded, the inhabitants prefer to call it the "Church of the Golden Saints". Once Eberigisilus, who was at the time bishop of Cologne, was racked with severe pains in half his head. He was then in a villa near a village. Severely weakened by the pain, as I said, he sent his deacon to the church of the saints. Since there was said to be in the middle of the church a pit into which the saints were thrown together after their martyrdom, the deacon collected some dust there and brought it to the bishop. As soon as the dust touched Eberigisilus' head, immediately all pain was gone.

Source of Translation: R. Van Dam, Gregory of Tours: Glory of the Martyrs (Liverpool, 1988), 85.
Commentary: Writing in the 590s, bishop Gregory of Tours (573-94) records the miraculous cure of bishop Eberigisilus, a contemporary, at the "Church of the Golden Saints" at Cologne.

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10th-Century Events

Thietmar, Chronicon 2.17

The emperor had precious marble, gold, and gems brought to Magdeburg. And he ordered that relics of saints should be enclosed in all of the columns. He had the body of Count Christian, as well as those of others among his familiars, interred next to the same church in which, while he still lived, he wished to have a burial place prepared for himself. In the year 961 of the Incarnation and in the twenty-fifth year of his reign, in the presence of all of the nobility, on the vigil of Christmas, the body of St. Maurice was conveyed to him at Regensburg along with the bodies of some of the saint's companions and portions of other saints. Having been sent to Magdeburg, these relics were received with great honour by a gathering of the entire populace of the city and of their fellow countrymen. They are still venerated there, to the salvation of the homeland.

Source of Translation: David A. Warner, Ottonian Germany: The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg (Manchester, 2001), 104.
Commentary: Writing c.1013, bishop Thietmar of Merseburg (1009-18) describes how the Emperor Otto I (936-73) had the body of St. Maurice translated to Magdeburg in 961.

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Thietmar, Chronicon 4.66

Ekkehard, called 'the Red', was overseer of the aforementioned church and, being a grammarian by profession, head of the school. One day, he wanted to examine the great golden altar, which is encrusted with gems and amber, to see if anything was missing from it. Suddenly, it fell over on him. Following this incident, which left him crippled, he surrendered the wealth that he had long been gathering to the provost, Walthard, to be distributed generously. After a few days, on 4 September, he released his faithful spirit. I do not wish to accuse him of anything, but I know this for certain; if anyone offends St. Maurice he should be aware of the imminent danger. On a particularly dark night, at the instigation of the Devil, a certain young man wanted to plunder his treasury. Already at the entrance, however, he was seized by fear and wanted to desist, as he himself subsequently recalled, but he heard a voice urging him to proceed with his audacious deed. The wretch had barely seized a crown when he was captured and placed upon the wheel, after having his bones broken.

Source of Translation: David A. Warner, Ottonian Germany: The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg (Manchester, 2001), 197.
Commentary: Writing c.1013, bishop Thietmar of Merseburg (1009-18) describes how St. Maurice protected the wealth of his shrine at Magdeburg.

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11th-Century Events

Gallus Anonymous, Chronicon 6

Emperor Otto the Red came to St. Adalbert to pray and seek reconciliation, and also to recognize the fame of Boleslav, as one can readily read in the book of the martyr's passion. Boleslav received him with such honour and magnificence as a king, a Roman Emperor, and an illustrious guest was worthy to receive. For at the emperor's arrival, Boleslav revealed an amazing sight; he had many columns of warriors first, and then of nobles, arranged in a spacious plain as in choirs. The clothing of each individual column varied in regard to its colour. And, no type of ornament was common, but rather what would have been found most precious anywhere. Indeed, in Boleslav's time, both warriors and ladies of the court wore fine cloth instead of linen or woollen clothing. Nor were furs at all precious, even if they were new. At his court, they were worn without a cloak and with gold embroidery. Moreover, in Boleslav's time, everyone though gold as ordinary as silver, and valued silver as cheaply as straw. After observing Boleslav's glory and wealth, the Roman Emperor declared, in admiration: "By the crown of my empire, that which I see far exceeds what rumour had reported". Then, with the advice of his great men, he added: "It is not worthy for such a great man to be named duke or count like one of our leading men, but rather to be encircled with the diadem and elevated to the royal throne". Then, taking the imperial diadem from his head, he placed it on Boleslav's head in a bond of friendship and, as a symbol of triumph, gave him a nail from the cross of the Lord, along with the lance of St. Maurice. In return, Boleslav gave him the arm of St. Adalbert. On that day, they were joined together with such great affection that the emperor made Boleslav brother and cooperator of the Empire, and named him friend and ally of the Roman people. Moreover, he conceded to Boleslav and his successors whatever ecclesiastical rights pertained to the Empire in the Kingdom of the Poles, or in other regions of the barbarians subjugated by him, or in regions which were to be subjugated. Pope Sylvester II confirmed the pact with a privilege of the holy Roman church.

Source of Translation: David A. Warner, Ottonian Germany: The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg (Manchester, 2001), 184.
Commentary: Writing at the court of Duke Boleslav III of Poland (1102-38), an anonymous French monk describes how the Emperor Otto III (980-1002) had crowned Duke Boleslav I as King of Poland at Gniezno in 1000.

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